"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag

Nine Days to Christmas: Nutcrackers in a Truck, Paperwhites in a Vase, One Tiny Duck

From Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders:

“After the trees had been bought, they then acted as a commodity to display other commodities. Particularly in the earlier parts of the nineteenth century, when presents were hung from their branches and decorations were edible, these items were removed from display on the tree’s branches, just as items were removed from a shop cabinet and handed to the customers. Trees in the USA were often placed by a window overlooking the street, unconsciously echoing shop-window displays. Thus, when tree ornaments became available to purchase, it was a natural progression.

“From the beginning, Germany was the leader in the manufacture of these ornaments. By the early eighteenth century the tin-mines of the Erzgebirge mountains, in Saxony, in south-eastern Germany, were almost exhausted. To eke out a living, the miners created handmade gifts for Christmas markets….

“These carved-wood nutcrackers, toys and decorations made in regional style soon became representative of German Christmas style more generally, along with the regional hand-blown glass ornaments…..”

From The Tale of the Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas:

“The cabinet was miraculously lit and it was filled with a loud hubbub. All the Harlequins, the Pierrots, the Punchinellos, and the jumping jacks were on the move, scurrying hither and yon….

“Finally, Nutcracker himself flung away his covers and with two feet together he leaped off the bed and onto the floor, yelling: ‘Crack! Crack! Crack! Stupid heap of mice! Get back to your holes or I’ll take care of you on the spot!'”

Ten Days to Christmas: Peace … and Glitter!

From “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Vintage Christmas Traditions edited by Linda Davies:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

From Christmas: A Short History from Solstice to Santa by Andy Thomas:

“As mid-December approaches in Western countries, a special atmosphere sets in. The weather and light have a feeling all of their own, and by way of acknowledgment, people start mounting a festival that has been with us, in some form or another, since ancient times….

“They put up colorful lights and sparkling objects to illuminate the gloom, hunt for gifts that might please loved ones, encourage good cheer, extend a spirit of goodwill beyond the usual boundaries, and plan meals on a scale rarely attempted in any other season, as if in willful defiance of winter’s steely austerity. Soon everything orbits around this outlandish and yet compellingly magnificent celebration….

“So where did all this glorious madness come from? Why do we do what we do at Christmas?”

Merry Christmas!!

From “A Christmas Carol” in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens:

“‘It’s Christmas Day!’ said Scrooge to himself. ‘I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night…. I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!…’

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him….

“He had no further intercourse with Spirits … and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!”

Below I’ve accumulated all my holiday photo galleries from this year’s “Days to Christmas” series. Click the links atop each gallery if you would like to see the original posts and the quotations I selected to go with them.

Thanks for reading, and taking a look … and:

Merry Christmas everyone!

Ten Days to Christmas: Peace

Nine Days To Christmas: Four Santas, Two Gnomes, One Jester, and Some Very Skinny Reindeer

Eight Days To Christmas: Tiny Baubles

Seven Days To Christmas: Red and Green (and One Jolly Chimp)

Six Days To Christmas: Silver and Gold

Five Days To Christmas: When Nature Does the Decorating

Four Days To Christmas: Winter Solstice

Three Days To Christmas: A Gathering of Angels, One (Tasmanian) Devil, and One Small Dog

Two Days to Christmas: The Light Still Shines

One Day To Christmas: Happy Christmas Eve!

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